There have been many pundits who have argued over the past months that the Iraq War was no longer the main issue in this election year. Housing woes and health care, as part of the overall ailing economy, were seen to be the issues that most Americans were now stressing to pollsters as more important than the war. The fact that the national price tag for the war is damaging the national economy seems forgotten by many Americans.
To be sure the economy is a major issue that makes many uneasy, but after the Congressional hearings today and Wednesday I think the Iraq war will again become an issue. The smooth talk from Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker does not quite balance out the fact that 4,000 Americans have been killed, and the lull in violence in Iraq has now started to climb once again.
The fact that there have been no real political answers applied in Iraq over the past year, while the whole purpose of the ‘surge’ was to allow for that very thing, is unsettling. The lead paragraph from the New York Times seems to place the right somber tone for the nation.
The senior commander of multinational forces in Iraq warned Congress Tuesday against removing “too many troops too quickly” and refused under stiff questioning to offer even an estimate of American force levels by the end of this year.
There is no end to the conflict, and no hope for an end given the current political climate in Washington, D.C. Instead of hoping that the war will somehow end if we just no longer concentrate on it is folly. The economy is rough, but the war should be the top priority this election cycle as it deals with international, economic, legal, and moral aspects of our lives as citizens.
It is time for the war to be back on page one above the fold in our morning papers.
In stating the Democratic Party’s case against administration war policy, Senator Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said that Mr. Bush’s goal of creating “breathing room” for political progress by sending five additional combat brigades last year “has not been achieved.”
“That reality leads many of us to once again challenge President Bush’s policies,” Mr. Levin said as the general and the ambassador sat motionless at the witness table. Senator Levin said the current Shiite-led government in Baghdad has shown “incompetence” and “excessive sectarian” policies.
The fact that an occupying force of American soldiers will be in Iraq for the foreseeable future is clear. And wrong. Has no one ever read the history of the Middle East in the Bush White House?
It has been widely anticipated that American troop levels in Iraq would be held steady for some weeks after the departure by July of five extra brigades ordered to Iraq last year by President Bush. There would be 15 combat brigades and close to 140,000 troops remaining in Iraq.
Given the time required to remove troops from Iraq or to halt departures of heavy equipment from the United States, senior officials have said that even under the best of circumstances no more than two or three more brigades could be brought home before Mr. Bush leaves office in January.
Even if all goes well, more than 100,000 troops would probably remain in Iraq into next year, leaving any decision on major reductions to the next president.
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